The Industry

Twitter Has Finally Banned Alex Jones

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 5: Alex Jones of InfoWars speaks into his phone during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations' use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg faced questions about how foreign operatives use their platforms in attempts to influence and manipulate public opinion. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Bye.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Thursday, Twitter permanently removed conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from its platform. The website was the last of the major social platforms to remove Jones and his Infowars site, following Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, all of which gave Jones the boot last month, citing repeated violations of their community standards. Apple Podcasts and Spotify also removed a handful of Infowars podcasts in August, likewise saying that Jones’ content, which often includes rants on outright falsehoods or worse incitements to hate or violence.

Specifically, Twitter suspended the accounts @RealAlexJones and @InfoWars from both its core service and Periscope, its live-streaming app. “We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ previous violations,” the company said in a tweet. Twitter says it will continue to monitor other accounts associated with Jones and his InfoWars empire.

Alex Jones traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to sit in on a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about Facebook and Twitter’s content moderation practices and efforts to curb false news, with Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifying. Dorsey then testified again at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Jones was live-broadcasting throughout both hearings and also made himself known in the hallways, all while using Twitter and Periscope. During that time, Jones attempted to commandeer a press interview with Sen. Marco Rubio. Their exchange became so heated that Rubio told Jones that if he didn’t stop bothering him, he’d “take care of you myself.” Jones called Rubio a frat boy.

On Aug. 14, Twitter suspended Jones’ personal account and the Infowars account for a week, citing violations of Twitter’s policy against inciting violence, after Jones shared a link to a video imploring viewers to get their “battle rifles” ready to use against the media. Earlier that month, a series of videos and tweets were removed from Twitter after they were unearthed by CNN. Those tweets reportedly violated Twitter’s guidelines against hateful conduct and harassment. One of the tweets alleged Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors were paid actors. Another compared David Hogg, one of the Parkland survivors who has risen to prominence as a vocal gun reform activist, to Nazis. “The Nazis did wear armbands, David Hogg wears one. The Nazis were a youth movement, they didn’t want the guns. And so if the shoe fits, wear it,” that since-deleted video said, according to CNN.

Dorsey previously defended his decision not to ban Alex Jones, but that was prior to Wednesday’s congressional hearings and a day before the CNN report. “We know that’s hard for many, but the reason is simple: He hasn’t violated our rules,” Dorsey tweeted at the time. “We’ll enforce if he does. And we’ll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren’t artificially amplified.” It appears that Twitter has finally decided that Jones has broken the rules enough times that a permanent ban was in order. Jones joins the ranks of infamous internet far-right provocateur and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who was similarly banned from Twitter in 2016 after inciting a flood of racist abuse aimed at the actor Leslie Jones. Roger Stone was likewise permabanned by Twitter in 2017 after firing off a string of obscene tweets directed at CNN journalists.

It’s not clear what exactly Jones did this time to finally put the nail in his coffin. But he certainly has enough marks against him that Twitter should have no hard time justifying its actions. Twitter’s ban of Jones is permanent, which means the company will work to detect if the conspiracy theorist attempts to create new accounts. If he does, Twitter will likely suspend those, too.

This article has been updated with more details.